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The X-Factor

22 Feb

Okay moms, I’ve decided.  All this stressing, worrying, consulting, reading, class-taking, and flash card purchasing is in vain.  For the first six months, you only have control over 10% of what your kid does well and doesn’t do well (sleep, eat, latch, take solids, sit up, roll over, laugh and crawl).  There will always be another kid that makes you wonder about your effectiveness as a mother.  Don’t let it erode your confidence.  Some kids just have it:  the X-Factor.

Beatrice was always a great sleeper.  By 8 weeks she had a schedule, slept 5-6 hours at a time and went back to sleep easily after waking to nurse.  Her brother Gus….not so much.

I started a new baby playgroup for Fussy Gus and we have met several other moms and babies (all of them first time moms).  I am sure they are sick of hearing me talk about how different Gus is from his sister and what a great sleeper she was.  Who am I trying to convince?  Maybe if I say it out loud enough, I’ll convince myself that I’m not doing anything wrong, or, rather there isn’t anything else I could or should be doing. I just have a fussy baby.

Then yesterday it hit me.  I hosted playgroup at my house.  While a few of us commiserated over interrupted nighttime sleep, babies that have to be held all the time and low milk supply, I was in awe of one mom and baby.  Not only did “J” sleep from 11-6 each night, and had been doing so for weeks, when we asked his mom about nursing, she said she produced 4-5 ounces… per side.

“PER SIDE!!!”  we all exclaimed.  She had 200 bags of frozen breast milk in her freezer.  Meanwhile I was happy to get 3 whole ounces when I pumped (way back when I still pumped).  They sell supplements, herbal teas, even a line of snacks to help with Mother’s Milk.  Old wives tales tell us to drink Guinness every day.  Our Pediatricians tell us to eat fatty foods.  And all of that stuff helps to an extent. Some women just produce a lot of milk and others don’t.

I think, among all of Bea’s friends, their moms and I have probably read just about every sleep book out there on the market:  Happiest Baby on the Block, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, the Sleep Lady, Ferber, etc.  So I’d consider us all pretty educated on the topic of sleep.  Why, then, did some babies cry from colic for three months and not sleep through the night until a year?  My expert answer is: Who the hell knows?  Some kids just have the X-Factor and some don’t.

We all started out feeding our eager six month olds healthy veggies and fruit.  Many of us reveled in making our own baby food.  There wasn’t a colored jar on the shelf that Bea wouldn’t heartily gobble up. So, why, then, does one little friend eagerly gobble up whatever vegan-friendly concoction his mom makes in the Vitamix, and Beatrice suddenly only likes chicken nuggets, rice and plain noodles?  On veggies, he’s got it. She doesn’t.

I nursed Bea for five months, so I was fully prepared to stick it out again with Gus (yeah, it hurt just as much as the first time.  Needles. In. My. Boob.)  But poor guy was losing weight.  We supplemented and he was still losing weight.  He was ravenous after a feeding because he wouldn’t stay on for more than 3 minutes.  So I stopped after two weeks.  Why?  Beatrice had the X-Factor on nursing.  Gus did not.

So, I am happy to say, let’s not stress anymore.  Do what you gotta do, moms. If your baby does not have the X-factor, its ok.  By six months, he will have caught up for the most part (and if he hasn’t, your ped will help you).   If you or your kid is lucky enough to have the X-Factor, be glad, but don’t get complacent.  Your next one may not.  🙂

I’m OK, You’re OK

1 Feb

So I have to thank my friend Lisa Dvorak at Housewife Hon for inspiring me to write again. Well, maybe the competitive edge in me came out. Lisa stays home all day, every day with her 2 1/2 year old and 7 month old. Lisa is hands on in every sense of the word, and makes all of us fellow playgroup moms look bad by making fun crafts and then having time to blog about it. She has managed to post like 10 times already in January. Her most recent post is about cleaning toddler poop up from the carpet, on her hands and knees, WHILE SHE BREASTFED HER INFANT AT THE SAME TIME IN THE ERGO CARRIER. You read that correctly. I would have been sobbing in a corner on the phone to my mother or husband, baby screaming from hunger. But I digress….

Where to pick up? Seeing as how I have both my kids parked in front of Dora the Explorer, I estimate I have three minutes to write. So, uh, yeah I got pregnant, was sick for three months (If Kate Middleton was a 10, I was a 9), lost my job, moved to the suburbs in the middle of a Baltimore summer (AGAIN) and had my cutie pie Gus William on December 1st. Okay, so you’re caught up.

Well, I guess not quite. This blog started out as something to discuss fertility, and slowly walk you through my journey of having Beatrice. Then I got pregnant again (not through fertility… oops!) What many people don’t know is that I suffered Post Partum Depression very badly with Beatrice and somewhat again with Gus.

Maybe this is a post for another time, but if you’ve had PPD, or even a touch of baby blues, you and I are sympatico and we share the war wounds. If not, you are one of the lucky ones that my friends and I secretly make fun of, because newborns are like ZERO fun on a good day. Just kidding, hahaha, seriously though you were lucky and probably have a sunny outlook on life all the time. So I won’t get into how it felt, how I got help, etc. That’s an important story but, again, for another time.

When going back to my Doctor for a check up recently she asked me if I would accompany her on an upcoming psychiatry lecture to med students. She was going to be discussing Post Partum Depression and wanted someone who had experienced it to be there with her to talk to the group and answer questions. She said she knew I would be “brutally honest.” LOL. I was more than happy to do this! I feel like everything happens for a reason, and if I could possibly help one person who will eventually become a doctor go on to help another person, then it was worth it. I mean it was worth it to have my kids and all, but you know what I mean.

It was an auditorium full of med students and my doctor and I basically walked through my history… having Beatrice, taking her home and feeling full on as though my life was over as I knew it. Getting help, getting better, having another baby…

But I wish I had talked about one other thing.  As a doctor treating someone with PPD, I think its important for them to understand, contextually, what it means to be a parent today.  And that is, that we are wayyyyy too hard on ourselves.  From the minute a woman gets pregnant, she wants to do it better than her own mother and instantly starts making mental notes of what she knows she’ll NEVER do as a parent (wink, wink).  And when we give birth, we immediately feel we aren’t doing enough, should be doing something better, bigger, more spectacular.   We don’t spend enough time with them, they watch too much TV, we haven’t done the baby book yet,  they haven’t learned to swim or missed out on immersion Mandarin classes. Why do we do this to ourselves?   Where does all the guilt come from?

I couldn’t articulate this any better than the blogger, Pregnant Chicken.  She wrote about Why You’re Never Failing as a Mother and a good friend passed it along.   Honestly this article sums it up for me, and I want every pregnant woman to read it!

Its important, I believe, when trying to understand a new mom’s feeling of depression, to know that she has just been thrust into this new competitive world of parenting. She’s been preparing for motherhood her whole life, and now that she’s finding its terribly hard, she feels like a failure.  She sees all these other super moms around her (who are actually feeling the same insecurities, she’ll later go on to find).  The pressure to breastfeed (breastmilk is best!), feed organically, to co-sleep or not to co-sleep, to make sure your child doesn’t lay eyes on a television screen  more than 10 minutes a month…. this new mom feels the pressure, and feels guilt for not enjoying EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of her newborn child as everyone says she should.

They only make “Congratulations” cards for new moms, so that must mean I should be constantly feeling on cloud nine, right?  They don’t make cards that tell the truth: “You are about to fall in love like you never thought possible, but it may not happen for you right away and you are still a good mom if it doesn’t.  It is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and you will not get much gratification for your efforts at first.  I am here if you need a hug.  Oh yeah, and you will sleep again, just not for a few months.”

Take it easy on yourself, Mom.  You are doing great.  And, what your child needs most–more than breastmilk, a natural birth, organic carrots or violin lessons– is a happy, healthy, semi well-rested mom.

Desitin is not poison, catfood is delicious and books are overrated

10 Feb

Before I had Beatrice, I used to think Playgroups and Mommy groups were just things that bored, rich housewives did.  After I had Bea, of course, I learned differently.  Finding a set of people who are wading through the same poopy muddy waters as you can be a mental lifesaver.  I actually found these fine ladies through a program that was hosted at a local church every week, and led by a Nurse/ lactation consultant.   AND, this wasn’t the first one I went to.  I tried one out when Bea was just two weeks old. My in-laws drove me because I wasn’t even cleared to drive yet (does that tell you how badly I wanted to leave the house?)  I left there feeling worse than when I came in, namely because I felt the woman running it was judging me for supplementing Beatrice with formula.

But anyway, I found the second one right here in Canton and met some great new friends, including the family that we now nanny share with.  We started going when Bea was just 3 weeks old. Many of us splintered off into our own Friday playgroup for babies born in summer/fall 2010. When I was hired at my new job over the winter, they asked what days I wanted to work.  I HAD to have Fridays off so I could continue to come to playgroup!  As a new mom, I can’t tell you what an uplift it is to have a cup of coffee, some lunch that you didn’t have to prepare and adult conversation for a few hours.

Because the group was initially very large (lots of moms on maternity leave), we set up a Yahoo Group so we could email the whole group at once.  So now, from time to time, when someone has a milestone, feeding, behavioral question, or just something funny to say, we can email the whole group easily (and as one particularly lively southern gal has done from time to time, announce a craving for “chikin,” and invite anyone who’s free to join her for a Chick Fil-A run).

A few months back, someone started this email chain.  I found it again and had to repost.  Maybe it’s not quite as funny to you reading it, because you don’t know the moms and the babies, but it’s one of those instances as a parent when you think you’re being a bad mom, only to realize everyone else does the same things, and all the other babies are going through the same stages!  So, I think we all gained a little perspective on this particular email.  These emails are copied verbatim… no creative license taken. Enjoy*.

Bree: Hello again ladies,

So here’s something we’ve been struggling with the past few nights- tell me if you have seen this in your kids too and what you did. For at least the last 10 months, every night at bedtime we dress C in her jammies, lay her down with us on the guest bed in her room and read her “Goodnight Moon” and “How do I love you?”

We then pick her up, kiss her and snuggle a minute and place her calmly in her crib where she promptly falls asleep. Sounds like a dream kid, right?

Not so much. The past few nights she has wrestled us through the jammies process, squirming and wiggling her way out of whatever we’re trying to put on. Fine. But then, it gets personal when she won’t lay down and listen to the books. We’re good book readers and we share the responsibility by alternating the pages each of us reads. We’re great at bed-time We’ve tried
everything from giving her  own book to letting her hold the book we’re reading to holding her down (gently) on the bed to get her to listen. Then she makes a beeline for the crib and won’t accept kisses or snuggles and promptly falls asleep.

Is this a phase? When will she get over it? Should we just  skip trying to do books and put her right in her crib? I mean, that sounds  barbaric!  Tell me what to do! Please!

Thanks and good night,

Bree and Ms. Bed Time Ruiner, C

Gwen: I mean this in the nicest way, but will you trade  C for H for a few nights?? I could use just skipping his story 🙂

Petra: So…she wants to skip all the reading/snuggling  stuff and go straight to sleep? Still falls asleep no problem? And this is bad because? 🙂

Layla: Ha ha ha!  If  you could only see bedtime with S!  I chase her and wrestle her for diapers and jammies.  I can’t believe you’ve had it so easy.  This is killing me.  But I’ll try to be helpful.  When S “hide-y” from me,  I chase her and tickle her and then quickly  put something fascinating and unexpected in her hands to get a diaper on.  The whole dressing process takes ten minutes  or so.  Some nights, if she is really wild  or uncooperative, I just put a leg over her chest to keep her in place.  Singing silly songs about the clothing or  asking her to do it herself and then helping also helps. She also is more  engaged if I first put her diaper and clothes on baby and then on her so she knows what is coming, and she likes looking at the animals on her jammies.  I let her wander during books and then just plop her in the crib all the same.  It’s not worth a battle to have it my way. Most nights she cuddles, but some nights just runs around and digs through toys and throws books from her shelves. Seriously, you have it good. I think C is just expressing her independence.

Me: Ha, Layla, I can’t tell you how fascinating a tube of Desitin  or aveeno body lotion is for 30 seconds… just long enough to wrestle some fat legs into pajama bottoms!

So I’m not the only one who has a less than relaxing bed time routine?  I thought we were supposed to have ‘wind down’ time but for us, it’s more like squirmy time. Don’t even get me started on brushing teeth.

Layla: Omg, carrie, I had to call the Dr last week because S  ate the Destin.  FYI, it says seek immediate medical attention; Dr wasn’t the least bit concerned.

Me: Bea almost drank hand sanitizer. Ooh this is great fodder for my blog!

Gwen: Ha ha ha!!! That’s awesome S!!! H continues to stand in his crib screaming all night. He fell asleep standing up again yesterday. I could not let him cry it out in the hotel this week so now that we are home mean mommy is in town! Pray this won’t last more than a few nights… Oh, and he ate more cat food today. Probably a bit drier  than balmex but may have been tastier.

Petra:  Carrie–You brush Bea’s teeth?! Please tell me Carrie is the only one (or that Bea has a whole mouthful of teeth). Hmmm, I think I was late brushing E’s teeth too, though she just had her first check-up and everything was fine…

Yep, I think Bree’s in the minority. It’s usually a wrestling match with P and I don’t even try reading to her (she still
nurses before bed but never to sleep–I leave her standing up in her crib). Tonight P kept trying to claw out of the tub while I washed E’s hair,  twisted and screamed bloody murder while I put her diaper/jammies on, and  repeatedly harassed the dog (who has bit her in the past) and tried to stick  her fingers in an electrical outlet while I was brushing E’s hair. Before I
shut the door, she made a beeline for the stairs (she seems to think that since she can go up them she can also go down them–head first). I think I may have swore at both of them at one point (E was not much better than P but she responds to threats)!

Whew. Hubby is out of town. Can you tell?

Kristy: Also, I am super impressed/jealous that you both get  to do bedtime together each night. If Hubby happens to be home for bedtime I  hand over the reins immediately. That junk is exhausting. Br is a pretty good book reader, although he does go bonkers and start kicking and thrashing on the last page of ANY book unless you have already started saying  onemorebook?!
onemorebook?! onemorebook?!” as fast as you can before you close it. And he used to snuggle for a nanosecond when I sang a song and handed him his  stuffed monkey right as I leaned over his crib, but now he has started slapping  me and cackling.

PJs aren’t much of an issue here, but diapers have become a  GIGANTIC war. Between his “I think it’s so funny to pull my knees to my  chest and lock them there with inhuman strength so you can’t undiaper or  rediaper me” to his “I found something interesting between my legs  that I want to pull on” to his “oh, look what else, there is poop  here I can touch” to his “hahahahahahah KICK MOM IN THE FACE” I  just don’t have enough sets of arms.

Oh and I have brushed Br’s teeth all of one time… really  it’s the least of my concern these days. Side note on teeth- anyone else  cutting the pointy ones? Because he’s getting his second or third starting  yesterday and he is a JERK. I am not a fan.

After depositing him in the crib I wanted to sit on the  steps and drink wine until Dylan came home but we have no wine so I settled for a Coke and watched the neighborhood show.

Carrie: I think I need an update on poor H. When did  this vertical sleeping start?

Lee: Bree, I’m so jealous!!  Getting pjs on T has become an Olympic event.  Also, where I used to nurse him to sleep and it was easy to just put him in his crib, now he immediately sits up in his crib  and looks wide awake.  Bedtimes have been at 10 and 11pm recently and its driving me insane!!!

Gwen, the vertical sleeping thing is really funny.

Layla: Petra, I brush all 6.5 of S’s teeth.  But it’s a bit of a joke as she insists on  holding the brush and basically just sucks the toothpastes off and chews the  brush and then screams when I take the brush back.

Toni: Hubby has decided that “we” need to start  brushing El’s teeth.  I am letting him  take the lead in that “we”.  Our doctor said it will get harder to read for a while since they are so  excited about moving on their own.  She suggested to keep reading like she was still sitting there because it was more  about your tone and voice than the actual book.

El has also started getting impatient to be put in her  bed.  She points and lunges toward the  crib and doesn’t want her lullaby.  I am  pretending that it is because she is tired and not because of my awesome  singing.

Steph: Toni- S is starting to reject lullaby  too……… and we harmonize!!!!!!!! He sees his crib and wants IN ASAP. I hope it’s just a phase because we love singing……and we are tooth brushers  but it’s primarily because my husband comes from a serious dental family.

*Names have been (poorly) changed to protect the innocent.

Signs that you have a toddler, a baby no more

1 Jan

You experience a somewhat incident-free evening out at a restaurant with your child, and leave with the utmost confidence that you are now fully equipped to negotiate a lasting peace in the Middle East.

You go through 5 rolls of paper towels a week.

You actually look at mothers with newborns and sort of miss those days (REALLY!!???)

You start fantasizing about all day Kindergarten… its another 3 or 4 years away, but hey, its a goal.

A day when you’ve managed a half-ass tooth-brushing job on your child followed by a bath where you’re not even sure if you got all their parts clean is a successful day.  At least they HAD a bath.

You start thinking… yeah, I could do this all over again.  Something a year ago you swore you’d never do as you were investigating whether tubal ligation or vasectomy were better options.  Or maybe both?

Bob on Real Estate

20 Nov

Bob and I are beginning the long and arduous process of looking for a new home.  Our present home isn’t anywhere near ready to sell, and we’re nowhere near ready to move, but we have started to look at houses anyway so we’ll be sure to know what we want when the time is right.

Last night, I went to bed early due to a head cold.  I showed Bob the MLS listing site that our realtor sent us.  I think he’s hooked.  He said he looked at 39 houses.   Apparently one of them was in a new sub division that I’d never heard of.

Bob: I looked at a bunch of houses tonight.  I found this one near Cub Grill.

Me: Cub Grill? What’s that?

Bob: It’s a subdivision near Harford Road.

Me (laughing hysterically):  That’s Cub Hill!

Bob (after a long pause, and listening to me cackle):  Nevermind I don’t want to see that house anymore.  I hate Cub Hill.

I know, I know, you’re saying “Uhh, I thought this was a blog on parenting and a tribute to Bea?” Well… if Bea said hilarious stuff like this every day I’d write a blog about it.  C’mon Bea, you’ve got some catching up to do!

TV Fall Season is HEEEEEERRRE!!!!!!!!!

20 Sep

Did anyone else catch the Premiere of “Up All Night” last week?  Its the new NBC show starting Christina Applegate and Will Arnett (and SNL alum Maya Rudolph).  You can tell by the amount of promotion they are putting into this show that they are pretty much pinning their fall hopes on these guys.

I caught the last 20 minutes or so.  As far as TV shows go, I found it relatively realistic.  Relative being the operative term.  I’m not sure what family would decide to keep a TV producer’s salary in lieu of a lawyer’s salary, but then again, I did miss the first 10 minutes so maybe there was more to it than that.  Anyway, we’ll see how it goes.  I did find a really funny quiz on the NBC website.  Men, see how well you do!

Also, I must bow down and pray to the Modern Family writers, Good Wife actors and Biggest Loser Contestants (although I’m not sure where trainers Kara and Brett went. I don’t know how I feel about Anna Kournikova, but me thinks the NBC brass is trying to get a little more male viewership on this show).

And, sadly, I wish I could say that TV is such a huge part of my life since becoming a mom and having to stay in a lot more, but that’s not the case.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a TV addict.  Even as a child, I panicked at the thought of not getting home in time to see my shows.  This is why I believe Tivo is one of the top inventions of this century.  But I digress. (Note to self: start blog on top inventions of this century).

May the TV Gods smile sweetly on you this week.  In the name of the Farnsworth, Marconi and holy cathode ray tube. Amen.

Why is there poop in the middle?

12 Sep

So, because this blog is in honor of my daughter, fellow moms and future moms, I need to start at the beginning with some storytelling. This background stuff has to be done.  Maybe Bea will read this in 25 years and see how much we went through to have her. Maybe she’ll feel the wee-est bit guilty and instead of putting us in the cheap old folks home, her guilty conscience will get us into the Ritz Carlton for old people.  See me? Always thinking.

How did I come up with the name of this blog? Well, I have become fond of several mantras in life: Dance like no one is watching, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, always walk home in groups, etc. But I really caught onto the “Live, Laugh, Love” thing after Bob and I were married. Is that copyrighted, I wonder? I mean, its three words put together, it’s not even a grammatically correct sentence, so I don’t know if anyone can actually take credit for writing that.  Its more of an arrangement, and not so much a phrase. I should look into that. Anyway, whatever it is, it seems to have gained popularity and I see it a lot on mugs, kitchen towels and the like.

So, never really being able to find the simple words to sum up what I stand for (brevity is not a strong point… apologies in advance), I felt this one summed up my feelings on life. Live life to the fullest, laugh hard and often, and love unabashedly.

When dear Beatrice came along, these verbs were amplified times a thousand, but my view on life  also got shifted just a bit. After a rough start (much more on that later), I quickly adapted a new attitude that was necessary to survive with most of my sanity in tact. I had to inject humor into my every day life, because in the end, what’s the point of all this if we haven’t laughed and shared good times?

For those that know me, you know I’m fairly baseline uptight.  I am anal-retentive, orderly and organized.  So having a baby, as you can imagine, threw my world upside down.  “Going with the flow,” was hardly in my vocabulary.   I suppose I could have tried to fight the forces, but I was given some great advice: “Embrace the chaos.” Easier said than done (much more on THAT later), but I somehow came out the other side of this a much more relaxed person.  We can’t control the crazy things that come with having a child.  We can’t have the same life we used to. So, we adapt.   I used to be the person that stayed late at work and agonized over work-related stuff even on the weekends.  After having Bea, it put things in perspective.  I can’t possibly get stressed out at work now, because I see how there are so many more important things in life.  Work is just work.  And if we get some poop stains on something, we just have to clean it up the best we can.

So, I settled on that for the title of my blog. Live, Poop, Laugh, Love. Poop represents the child in my life, but also all the dirty, yucky, gross things that go along with having a child, and the crap a mother goes through in general. Poop can also stand for the crap in life that we deal with on a day-to-day basis, that, hopefully with the right attitude, we can look at with humor.  We all have Poop, I guess is my point.  The figurative and the literal.

My little darling (who I think may be lactose intolerant and is now having no fewer than 6 tantrums a day), is sleeping soundly, and its a school night, so I’ll have to go leave it at that for now.  Next up…. the fertility journey!!!  😀

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